Jul 21, 2023 - News

D.C.'s Dave Thomas Circle do-over begins

Mayor Muriel Bowser knocks down a brick wall that was part of the former Wendy's at Dave Thomas Circle. Photo: Minh Connors/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The infamous Dave Thomas Circle is no more and, from its ashes, a new intersection will rise.

Why it matters: The chaotic traffic circle was hated, loved, and feared by pedestrians and motorists alike — and now the city is trying to make it safer.

Flashback: In early 2021, the city used eminent domain to seize the Wendy's in the middle of the intersection where First St., New York Ave., and Florida Ave. NE meet, which Washingtonians unofficially dubbed Dave Thomas Circle after the fast food chain founder.

  • That same year, the city released its plans for a reimagined intersection.

Driving the news: On Wednesday, crews started the demolition of the Wendy's to make way for the new $41 million intersection's construction, slated for later this month.

Details: According to District officials, the new intersection will:

  • Realign and add two-way traffic to First Street NE.
  • Restore two-way traffic on Florida Avenue NE.
  • Include protected bicycle lanes and three new public park spaces.

The public park spaces, which are being designed by a landscape architect firm, will be in front of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in the space where the Wendy's was, and in front of the People's Building.

What we're watching: The circle is in need of a new name.

  • More than 1,200 community members sent in ideas to the NoMa BID's naming contest this spring.

D.C. has narrowed down the list to five finalists.

  • Douglass Crossing, after abolitionist and D.C. resident Frederick Douglass.
  • Mamie "Peanut" Johnson Plaza, after the first woman to ever pitch in the Negro League and who lived in Northeast D.C.
  • The People's Plaza after the former warehouse of Peoples Drug along First St. and Florida Ave. NE, which was a predecessor to CVS.
  • Three Stars Plaza, after the three stars on the D.C. flag and the three parks in the new space.
  • Tiber Gateway, to represent the Tiber Creek that ran near First St. NE and now runs underground.

What's ahead: D.C. residents can vote on the names online or by calling 202-289-0111 until August 25 at midnight.

  • Intersection construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

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